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Use the Force, Luke: Microsoft patent details PC input using your mind

Microsoft's operating system already allows you to control it using your eyes but it seems the company is not satisfied with just that. A new patent published by the USPTO showcases the Redmond giant's plans for a new input method that's a little more fantastical.

Titled "Changing an application state using neurological data", the patent, which was first filed in May 2016, details how neurological data could be used as an input device to control applications. It showcases a computer connected to an EEG (electroencephalography) sensor capable of reading the electrical signals in the user's brain. The computer could then change the state of an application based on changes in the user's neurological state.

The patent further details the operation of such a device as follows:

"In some circumstances, neurological user intention data corresponding to a physical gesture is generated when a user thinks about and/or focuses on a movement in the same way an amputee might think about moving an amputated limb."

The device would, of course, need to be calibrated in order to learn an individual's unique neurological makeup and would, over time, learn to distinguish the electrical patterns that precede a particular action, say lifting your arm. It could then look out for these patterns in the future and could interpret your thinking about the action into a virtual command to, for example, a video game character to do the same.

The company also highlights the various operations such a device could allow an individual to perform telepathically. You could, for example, move items (like the cursor on the screen) with just your thoughts. It even ponders over the possibility of developing a degree of sophistication that would allow the device to distinguish between the user's intention to simply paste something in a word processor and paste text while matching the destination formatting. The patent submits a number of operations that you could theoretically perform in this manner:

"Operations may include object move operations, build operations, edit operations, animation or actuation operations, data input or output operations, display operations, audio operations, character/object movement or control operations, menu operations, navigation operations, processing operations, or other operations performable within the application to modulate input or output, settings, responses (e.g., visual, audio, and/or mechanical responses), and the like."

This technology is largely theoretical at this point and while it may indeed be possible to one day control your electronic devices with a thought alone, you probably won't be able to live out your Jedi fantasies for at least a while.

Source: USPTO via OnMSFT

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